Navigating the Grocery Store Aisle

The authors differentiated between information need, as measured by responses to three statements —“I need to know more information about GMO food,” “I am willing to know more information about GMO food,” and “I hope the government can issue information related to GMO food”— and information seeking , measured by responses to these statements: “Seeking further information related to GMO food is necessary,” “I will seek more information related to GM food,” and “I will seek more information related to GMO food through various channels.” Finally, they measured attitude by responses to three statements —“It is very good to make food by GMO tech,” “Making food using GMO tech is a wise decision,” and “I am in complete support of making food using GMO tech”— and i ntention to purchase food by responses to these statements: “If GMO food is available, I will buy it” and “If GMO food is sold I [intend/plan/will try] to buy it.” The authors found that attitude toward GMO food predicted purchase intention, and attitude was predicted by risk perception. Specifically, knowledgeable consumers perceived fewer risks and were more likely to intend to purchase GMO foods. It was not surprising that respondents’ perception of risks from GMO foods affected their attitudes toward GMO foods and their intentions to purchase GMO products, and attitudes were also directly related to purchasing preferences. Those consumers who perceived a greater level of GMO risks were more likely to need and seek information about GMO foods, and believing that information on genetic modification was necessary was related to an intention to seek information. Thus, it would make sense to especially provide information to those who perceive higher risks from GMO foods. As these studies differed on the impact of knowledge on attitudes, Hasell and Stroud (2020) used data from the Pew American Trends Panel to expand on the question of whether knowledge about GMOs led to more positive or negative views. They hypothesized that type of knowledge may matter, specifically knowing the difference between the science behind GMOs and consumer applications of GMOs. In the survey, respondents were asked to share their beliefs about GMOs by agreeing or disagreeing with the statement “GMO foods are safe to eat;” they were asked to share their knowledge of science behind GMO s by responding “true” or “false” to the statements “Eating GMOs changes a person’s genetic makeup” and “Regular food does not contain genes, but genetically modified food does.” They also were asked to share their knowledge of GMO consumer foods by indicating whether they knew that corn, soy, wheat, grapefruit, and papaya have GMO versions. When it came to knowledge about bioengineering, knowing that genetically modified foods do not change a consumer’s genetic makeup increased the perceived safety of these foods, while knowing that all crops contain genes was unrelated to beliefs about GMOs. However, knowing which types of foods have GMO alternatives was negatively associated with their perceived safety. Thus, while one type of knowledge was positively related to perceived safety of GMOs, another type was negatively associated, suggesting that providing knowledge alone may not improve consumer perception of GMOs.


Based on the Pew Research study, Hasell and Stroud (2020) found that political and religious leanings were not associated with GMO safety perceptions or knowledge. However, those who perceived genetic modification as immoral — based on their agreement or disagreement with the statement “Adding or editing genes to a crop is immoral”— were more likely to view genetically modified foods as


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